The Gifted Realm: Academy - Volume 1

Chapter 32 - Suitable for Public Consumption

Defeat had Dan sinking into a chair in his father’s office. “Fine. But what are we going to do about this, Dad? This thing with Venton. They’re blaming it all on you. I don’t have carte blanche approval or warrants to go in and dismantle the school brick by brick to figure out the tests or the missing money.”

“I’m not asking you to take Venton apart, son. I’m asking you to use what you have at your disposal to find out what I need to know.”

“I used what I had at my disposal to figure out the picture in the paper. You didn’t seem to like that.”

 “No, I don’t appreciate you going behind my back to find out things that have very little to do with your life. It was never quite enough for you just to be an officer, Dan. You also wanted to play the part of Governor and if need be of the executioner as well. Maybe this entire thing is to help me finally teach you to play by the rules.”

“Never been too good at that. Never plan to be.”

“And that right there is why you can’t seem to stay out of trouble. Work within the parameters that you have been given, Dan. For me. If you want to help me salvage our family name and my career, do what you can with what you have.”

Standing to his full height, towering over his father seated at his desk Dan nodded. “Yes, sir.” With that, he made his exit. If his father wanted answers, he’d get them, but then Dan was going to demand a few in return.

Silently, he slipped inside his own home wondering if Fionna had waited up. He shouldn’t have wondered. She was seated on the living room sofa, curled up in one of her quilts, sipping tea.

“Hey, baby.”

“Hey there.” She wrinkled her nose. “Didn’t find out anything, huh?”

“Not really. Dad and Governor Haydenshire showed up.”

She cringed. “Was he mad?”

“Mad, hurt, all of the things I suppose he has every right to be. Swears he never cheated on Mom but he won’t tell me who the woman is.”

Seating himself beside her, Dan toed out of his boots and wrapped her up in his arms. “Kara and I tried to talk Lindley out of her hedonist wedding.”

“Bet that went over like a lead balloon.”

“I’m torn on the whole thing. I mean, it’s their wedding. They should have it where they want to I guess. We did get married in Kauai without your parents there because that’s what we wanted. I just don’t get your mom’s insistence that we all be there.”

“She’s trying to cover up the story about Dad’s alleged affair.”

“I know that. Just couldn’t quite convince her this particular wedding is going to be a good idea. Meredith got creative and started selling your mom on a full Senate wedding idea which of course she loved.”

“But Lindley balked loudly, right?”

“Your mom offered her a ton of money if she’d have the Senate deal. She’s considering.”

“Lindley is considering something my mother suggested? Did hell freeze over while I was gone?”

Her soft chuckle eased the tense set of his muscles. “I’m sorry, Fi. I’m supposed to be keeping my cool, keeping it all together. You’re not supposed to be worrying about anything. I fucked that up, too.”

“Dan, stop it. You didn’t. You ever think trying to be my hero, and Aida’s hero, and your father’s hero, and Venton’s hero is all too much?”

“Trust me, right now I am not Dad’s hero. Pretty sure he’d like to disown me.”

“I doubt that. He’s shaken over all of this. I believe him. I don’t think that woman was his mistress but if he won’t tell you who she is it has to be something painful for him to recall. He doesn’t want to revisit whatever it was that happened all of those years ago. And of course right now with the entire Realm breathing down his throat about Venton that makes anything derogatory about your family automatically front page news.”

“I can only help him if I can figure out what the hell is going on at Venton.”

“Then let’s do that. I’m supposed to be your sidekick, remember?”

“You’re a lot more than my sidekick, honey. Why don’t you go on to bed? I’ll start going through the stuff Jeff pulled off of Wilshire’s laptop.”

“No. I want to help. Plus, if there are naked pictures of Katherine Bryant anywhere I want to know what you’re seeing.”

“Fi.” Dan shuddered. An automatic reassurance that there wouldn’t be anything like that formed on his tongue, but he had no idea what he was about to dive into. “I don’t want to see anyone like that but you. This is just a case.”

“I know. So, tell me how you did this at Iodex.”

“Normally, I would go through several things quickly, just long enough to give them a cursory overview, then I would go back through them in detail. I usually tried to get a feel for the case before I jumped in with both feet.”

“What kind of evidence do you have?”

“Jeff cloned the Chancellor’s laptop twice this week and I managed to grab a clone of his phone. Almost got caught but we have those that you let Aida play with so I threw one in my bag on the off chance that I could get access to his cell.”

Her sienna eyes sparkled as in the low lamplight as she stared at him. “You really miss this don’t you?”

“Miss what?”

“Miss being a cop.”

“More than I was even willing to admit to myself. But that has nothing to do with my current job.”

Dan’s cell rang in his pocket before she could ask him another question. “Hey, sorry about tonight,” he offered Jeff.

“No problem, sir. Hope he didn’t come down on you too hard.”

“I probably deserved the dressing down.”

Jeff’s awkward laughter said he agreed. “Hey, listen, you might want to log onto Facebook.”

“What now?”

“Mentor Bryant’s husband just made his profile public and went off on her and the Chancellor. It’s blowing up. The post has been shared hundreds of times.”

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